SEAL THE DEAL
I love a good mystery.
“How old is that?” is a common question in the collecting community.
Artifacts emblazoned with the Michigan State Seal have an interesting background that can help you answer that question. Here’s a quick history lesson that will help you become a collector detector.
The official name of Michigan State has changed at least six times:
Feb 12 1855 Agricultural College of the State of Michigan
Mar 15 1861 State Agriculture College
June 2 1909 Michigan Agricultural College
May 13 1925 Michigan State College of Agriculture and Applied Science
July 1 1955 Michigan State University of Agriculture and Applied Science
Jan 1 1964 Michigan State University
Prior to 1926, M.A.C. used the intertwined letters, popular on current Michigan State Basketball throwback uniforms, or the State Board of Agriculture as a seal.
Originally created in 1926 by John Sunderlin, MSC Liberal Arts student, the official seal of Michigan State has slightly changed over the years to coincide with these name changes. College Hall, the first building in America dedicated to the study of agricultural science, is always featured on the seal:
1926-1934 MSC “ESTABLISHED 1857” SEAL
Michigan State has always prided itself as the “Pioneer Land Grant College.”
In 1934, MSC received an inquiry from the University of Maryland challenging that notion, asking “Why was MSC older when Maryland was established in 1856?” MSC officials explained that 1857 was the first year the school offered classes. However, 1855 was the year of legal founding, a date most schools used as their establishment.
The board quickly changed the seal to read “Founded 1855” and established February 12, 1855 as the official founding, ten days before Pennsylvania Agricultural School (Penn State University).
1934-1955 MSC “FOUNDED 1855” SEAL
1955-1964 MSU AGRICULTURE AND APPLIED SCIENCE
On it’s Centennial Anniversary, Michigan State was allowed to drop the College and become a University, but in a compromise, must keep the Agriculture and Applied Science tag until 1964 when it was allowed to be known as Michigan State University.
Armed with a little knowledge and reason, you too can “Seal the Deal” on dating Michigan State artifacts.
For your first case - What’s wrong with this recent eBay offering?
Every name change at Michigan State was met with opposition from the University of Michigan.
For a detailed history, I recommend The Student and his Professor by David J. Young for your Spartan Library.
Be sure to check out my first article: The Original Only Colors